Superstar Rajnikanth’s popularity is virtually unparalleled in the annals of cinema. A new Rajinikanth film is not just a film it is an event of epic proportions and the cult fan following extends beyond the state and the country. At the inaugural of the 45th International Film Festival of India, November 20, Rajnikant will be conferred with the Centenary Award.
Here are some facts about the actor with a cult following:
- Superstar Rajnikanth was born in a Maharashtrian family as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad
- He worked with the Bangalore Transport Service (BTS) as a bus conductor before joining the Madras Film Institute to join the acting course.
- The noted Tamil director K Balachander (who also made Ek Duje ke Liye) was the first to spot him and suggested that he learn Tamil.
- In many of his earlier films he played a negative character.
- S P Muthuraman one of the most successful directors in Tamil cinema gave him a positive role in Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri (1977), which changed the course of his career.
- In the year 1977 he had 15 releases, which rose to 20 (Tamil, Telugu and Kannada) in 1978 while his popularity continued to soar exponentially.
- Bairavi released in 1978 earned him the sobriquet of Superstar and it was for this film that the distributor put up an 11 metre (35 feet) cut out, which since then has become a regular feature for all Rajnikanth films.
- His debut in Malayalam cinema was in 1979 in a Arabian Nights fantasy story Allauddinum Albhutha Vilakkum
- For a brief period, he decided to quit acting but was persuaded into making a comeback in Billa which was a remake of Amitabh Bachchan’s Don (1978)
- Thillu Mullu, a remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Golmaal, was his first full length comedy. It was directed by his mentor K Balachander.
- He also acted in the remake of the Telugu film Ram Robert Rahim, a remake of Amar Akbar Antony and Jeevana Porattam, a remake of Roti, Kapda aur Makaan.
- He played a triple role in Moondru Mugam (1982) and played the same roles when it was remade in Hindi as John Johnny Janardhan a couple of years later.
- His first Hindi film was Andhaa Kanoon (1983) in which he acted along with Hema Malini and Amitabh Bachchan.
- He teamed up with Big B in Geraftaar (1985) and Hum (1991).
- He wrote his first screenplay for the film Valli (1993) in which he also made a special appearance.
- Aatank Hi Aatank (1995) starring Aamir Khan was his last major Hindi film.
- Muthu was the first Tamil film to be dubbed in Japanese and went on to create a big fan following for Thalliva as he is popularly known. The film grossed $1.6 million in Japan.
- Chandramukhi (2005) a remake of the Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu. It was also dubbed in Turkish and German as Der Geisterjäger and released in the respective nations.
- Enthiran directed by Shankar was the most expensive film made. The success of the film lead to the IIM Ahmedabad to use the film as a case study to analyse the business of cinema and its success story in a post-graduate elective management course called Contemporary Film Industry: A Business Perspective.
- Although he is not directly involved with politics, his support for a party or candidate is highly capable of swaying public opinion.